Premier John Horgan has penned an opinion editorial in response to the rise of anti-Asian racist incidents in B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full op-ed below.
Living through a crisis can bring out both the best and worst in people. Each day, I am inspired by stories of generosity, neighbours looking out for one another and communities stepping up to support marginalized and vulnerable people. But when I heard about anti-Asian attacks – people being blamed for COVID-19 – I was angry. Racism has no place in our province.
I am asking you to join me in standing up against hate.
Hate crimes and racist attitudes have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began. People in our province have had racist slurs shouted at them. They have been punched, pushed to the ground and spat on. Asian Canadians have bore the brunt of these despicable actions.
Everyone has the right to feel safe in B.C.
Our government has a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination. One of the first things we did was re-establish B.C.’s Human Rights Commission to protect and defend human rights. We have launched Resilience BC, a new anti-racism network that targets racism, discrimination and hate in all communities around the province. And, we have selected the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre to act as a provincial hub to help communities respond to racism in all its forms. We have made good progress, and there is more to do. We are committed to building a safe province for everyone.
A global pandemic is challenging and stressful. People are afraid for the health of their loved ones. They’re worried about the economic effects on their family, business and community. Fear can bring out the worst in us. It can encourage us to point our finger and blame someone else for the situation we find ourselves in. But a pandemic is nobody’s fault. A person’s race is not a virus, and no community is to blame.
There is never an excuse for prejudice. No amount of fear or suffering can justify hate.
It’s up to all of us to stand up against racism, but especially those of us with privilege. We can challenge racist remarks when we hear them. We can condemn stereotypes and scapegoating, and correct misinformation designed to place blame where it doesn’t belong. We can report hate crimes and racist incidents when we see them happen in our communities or places of work. We can let our friends know we support them when they’re feeling unsafe.
British Columbia is known for its multiculturalism and community-minded people. We are a province of immigrants from all around the world. A province that is on the path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We have a lot of work to do to make sure every person feels safe and welcome here. Our diversity and inclusivity are what make our province so special and we must work together to protect that.
COVID-19 won’t last forever, but how we treat each other has lasting effects. Let’s bring our best to this pandemic by standing together against hate. Be kind, be calm and be safe.